I rarely complain and almost never use my blog as a platform to do so. Who needs it? But today, I had a unique experience that I feel should be shared.
Between May 16 and July 16, I had, of my own will and desire, subscribed to a virtual mailbox system. The goal was to have a Toronto number that locals could call and leave a message on until I had a proper line up and running. Originally, I had planned to keep the number but upgrade my service so that it could be forwarded to either my Winnipeg or my Toronto landline (at a later date) depending on where I was.
When I first signed up I got the great selling speal. You know, here are all the bells and whistles, the highest priced service is the best bang for your buck. All that kind of thing. I went with the middle priced service because I believe in test driving. As I was about to test drive this service the tires fell off the vehicle and I couldn’t even get started.
First issue – a technical one that essentially prevented me from being able to use the service AT ALL, was addressed after I contacted the company. My contact at the company, by the way, was the President. I’m not sure how many people really work for this company, but I will say that whenever I had an issue and contacted their main line, I always got a voicemail box. Never a live person. I guess that’s there business. Needless to say, I ended up corresponding via email as that seemed to be the most efficient course of action.
Once I got my first bill, I noticed that I was charged a lot more than I had been told – $34.39 – but I assumed it was for 2 weeks of May and one full month of June. But when I got another invoice on the first of June with another charge, I knew something wasn’t right. It was clear to me upon purchasing the service that my monthly fee would be $16.75. Second issue – this time a billing issue. I was then informed that there was an activation fee charged and a pro-rated amount of the monthly service fee included. An activation fee had never been mentioned upon purchasing the service. Guess what else was conveniently left out of the initial sales speal – the terms under which I could cancel my service.
On July 16, I realized that I was NOT getting anything but hassles with this service. I called and invariably LEFT A MESSAGE with the billing department. I had heard nothing from them for a week. So I contacted my rep via email on July 22 (the day I was leaving for China) and indicated that I wished to cancel my account. I indicated that the technical and billing issues had led me to believe that this wasn’t for me. He didn’t seem to remember what I was talking about. But did remember that there was a 30-day notice for cancellations. OK, THAT’S NEWS TO ME. I had quickly learned earlier on that the person I was dealing with, although the President of the company, had the SOFT SKILLS OF A CACTUS. There was never any effort to really apologize for the inconvenience or clarify policies. It was kind of like, now that we have you as a customer and your locked in, no more effort needs to be made on our part.
I’ve had billing issues and some technical problems with all sorts of companies – Rogers, Bell, MTS to name a few. The difference is that even if not the first time, you can eventually get someone on the phone who knows and is hopefully empowered to handle the situation in a way that LEAVES YOU BETTER OFF than when you started. Hmmmm…not so this time.
Ok so here we are. It’s July 22, I am literally almost out the door enroute to the airport, so I said “Fine. Please accept this email as notice that I wish to cancel.” I was told I would receive one last charge on my credit card on August 1. Ok… Well, come Sept 4, I receive an invoice from the company with a charge for my monthly service. Now I’m just PISSED OFF because not only were policies omitted from even electronic documents sent to me (invoices and a technical manual on how to set up my mailbox) much less a verbal sales speal, not only have I had to deal with billing questions and technical problems, but now I have to call yet again to have charges reversed from my credit card before I’m billed by my credit card company. GIVE ME A BREAK. I expect continuous billing issues from massive corporations but not some joe-shmoe company that nobody has ever heard of. I adhered to all of their policies even though I was only informed of them after the fact. All I wanted was to get rid of the service and no longer be inconvenienced. I sent an email indicating just that and demanded that the charges be reversed. I also indicated that I wanted it done within 5 business days or I would pass this off to my credit card company, telling them that I did not agree to the charge, and they would go after the company for the money.
Then I got an email back with excuses and finger-pointing at me. MOI? PORQUOI? I was told that I should have gone onto the company website to EDUCATE myself on their policies. NO KIDDING EH? Well I did. In fact I’ve looked everywhere and I can’t find anything under any section of the website that refers to a 30-day cancellation policy or a $25 activation fee. I even went to my old faithful, google.com and did a couple of searches. Guess what came up? NADA. ZIP. ZERO. NOTHING. The only policy that exists on their site is with reference to privacy and copyright info. Jeez, if you’re going to direct people to your website, then make sure the information is actually there!
So should I have just left things at that? Probably. But I guess all I can say is – DON’T MESS WITH A PRAIRIE GIRL.
Email from me in response:
“I am not even going to read the rest of your email. I am a business owner myself and while I have never been confronted with this same issue of an unhappy customer, I would never be so brazen to make excuses to my clients for errors or any kind of dissatisfaction they might have with my services. It is the responsibility of your company and your company alone. Shifting the blame onto a customer is completely counter productive. I have already indicated my billing and technical issues with your company over the last 4 months. I have contacted you at ALL times. I contacted you once before this when I was charged an initial activation fee plus the service fee and at no point, when I was signing up for the service did you communicate the additional fees that I would be charged. I have emails, in fact, going as far back as 2 weeks into the service when I was provided with the WRONG password to set up the very service I had purchased.
When I contacted you in July, all I wanted was for my service to be discontinued. Then you told me you required 30 days notice. It seems to me that my issues with your company largely stem from the fact that you do not communicate your charges and policies to unsuspecting prospective customers. Now, all I want is for the new charge – one that should never have been – to be reversed. I am not interested in your excuses. Having a past in sales and service excellence myself, I must admit your tactics in dealing with me as a customer have done nothing to re-assure or satisfy me.
I don’t need any further communication from you or your company so long as the charge is reversed. Thank you for your time.”
Email response from the President of the company:
“Apparently the fact that you don’t read things in full makes me understand where you challenges stem.”
Come now, Brian, I know it’s BACK TO SCHOOL WEEK and all but do we really want to resort to childish behaviour on the playground? I have to laugh. Twenty-one years of service and the President of a company, and this is what I get….for being a customer. 🙂